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Data analytics in exams

Chartered Accountants are increasingly using more advanced approaches to interrogate client data. Embedding these techniques within our exams ensures that we continue to reflect the current and future workplace and will also help to develop your judgement, professional scepticism and critical thinking skills.

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Data analytics in exams

The use of data analytics in exams is split into two sections. Data analytics software, which has already been introduced to exams in 2021, and the use of spreadsheet functionality, which is being introduced in exams in 2022. To support you with these changes we have developed the resources below.

Data analytics software

We have introduced data analytics software into ACA exams, specifically the Audit and Assurance and Corporate Reporting exams.

Find out more

Use of spreadsheet functionality

The examinable skills in the Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management include structuring and assimilating data, statistical calculations and financial functions.

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Spreadsheet functionality

Spreadsheet functions are part of the learning materials and skills required of students in the following exams: Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management. These include three broad areas of data analysis within the exam software.

  • Data assimilation and visualisation

    To structure and assimilate data, a variety of spreadsheet logical functions could be used. These functions can be combined to filter, sort and restructure data provided in a pre-populated spreadsheet. This enables data to be scrutinised to identify trends and patterns that can be presented to management in a variety of formats appropriate to the purpose in context.

  • Statistical analysis
    Spreadsheet statistical functions enable students to carry out statistical calculations quickly without extensive mechanical calculations, or the need to memorise statistical formulae. This gives a focus on understanding the data provided and interpreting the statistical results.
  • Financial functions

    Financial functions in spreadsheets are useful in determining common measures in finance such as IRR. They save time in performing extended calculations. This will not just enable the calculations to be made in the first instance, but a variety of adjustments to the base data can be made, for example to test sensitivity and gain an understanding of the key variables impacting risk, as would be the case in data analysis in the workplace.

Within the Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management exams you may be examined in the following ways:

  1. Data will be provided in the question, and you should populate the spreadsheet based on the data in the question.
  2. A spreadsheet will be provided in the exam with pre-populated data for you to structure, assimilate, interpret and evaluate.

Below is a list of functions you need to be familiar with based on which exam you are sitting.

Functions

Business Strategy and Technology

Financial Management

Strategic Business Management

Data assimilation and visualisation

AVERAGE

COUNTIF

COUNTIFS

IF*

 IFS  Added in 2023    Added in 2023

RANK

SUM

SUMIF

 SUMIFS  Added in 2023    Added in 2023
 TREND  Added in 2023    Added in 2023

Statistical analysis

CORRELATION

Added in 2023

STD DEV

Financial functions

IRR

MIRR

XIRR      Added in 2023

NPV

POWER

PV

RATE

 

 

 

General

Absolute cell references (eg, $A$1 is a fixed reference to cell A1)

Formatting (eg, to 0 decimals, Currency £ and Percentage % )

*Nested IF statements could be used in Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management

Spreadsheet functionality in exams

Support and guidance

To support you with these changes we have developed a series of videos on basic spreadsheet functions to aid your understanding for the Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management exams.

Excel Community and training

The Excel Community is our one-stop shop for all things Excel. Here, you will be provided with the tools you need to develop your Excel skills, along with a host of time-saving tips and tricks to help you use Excel in your studies and at your work. You will also have access to articles, webinars and much more. Join the Excel Community for free here, using discount code ITEXSTUDENT.

Please note: if you have previously registered for the Excel online training via your Faculties Online subscription, you need to complete the training by 31 December 2022. From 2023, the Excel online training will no longer be available.

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Data analytics software

ICAEW has introduced data analytics software into ACA exams, starting with the Audit and Assurance exam and Corporate Reporting.

You will need to be familiar with how the software works and its various functions. It is therefore important that you work through the relevant explanatory guidance notes, using the practice datasets that we have created. You should then attempt the practice questions.

Introduction to data analytics software

Discover more about the data analytics software with this introductory video.

Watch the live webinar including demonstrations of the data analytics software and a live Q&A.

Data analytics software - live webinar